Nobusuke Kishi

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Nobusuke Kishi
岸 信介
Nobusuke Kishi.jpg
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
31 January 1957 – 19 July 1960
MonarchShōwa
Preceded byTanzan Ishibashi
Succeeded byHayato Ikeda
Director-General of the Japan Defense Agency
In office
31 January 1957 – 2 February 1957
Prime MinisterTanzan Ishibashi
Preceded byTanzan Ishibashi
Succeeded byAkira Kodaki
Member of the House of Representatives
for Yamaguchi 1st District
In office
1 May 1942 – 8 October 1943
In office
20 April 1953 – 7 September 1979
Personal details
Born(1896-11-13)13 November 1896
Tabuse, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Empire of Japan
Died7 August 1987(1987-08-07) (aged 90)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyLiberal Democratic Party (1955–1987)
Other political
affiliations
Spouse(s)
Ryōko
(m. 1919; died 1980)
Children2
Alma materTokyo Imperial University
Signature

Nobusuke Kishi (岸 信介, Kishi Nobusuke, 13 November 1896 – 7 August 1987) was a Japanese accused war criminal and politician who was Prime Minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. He is the maternal grandfather of Shinzo Abe, twice prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020.

Known for his brutal rule of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo in Northeast China in the 1930s, Kishi was nicknamed the "Monster of the Shōwa era" (昭和の妖怪; Shōwa no yōkai).[1] Kishi later served in the wartime cabinet of Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō as Minister of Commerce and Vice Minister of Munitions,[2] and co-signed the declaration of war against the United States on December 7, 1941.

After World War II, Kishi was imprisoned for three years as a suspected Class A war criminal. However, the U.S. government did not charge, try, or convict him, and eventually released him as they considered Kishi to be the best man to lead a post-war Japan in a pro-American direction. With U.S. support, he went on to consolidate the Japanese conservative camp against perceived threats from the Japan Socialist Party in the 1950s. Kishi was instrumental in the formation of the powerful Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) through a merger of smaller conservative parties in 1955, and thus is credited with being a key player in the initiation of the "1955 System", the extended period during which the LDP was the overwhelmingly dominant political party in Japan.[3][4]

As prime minister, Kishi's mishandling of the 1960 revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty led to the massive 1960 Anpo protests, which were the largest protests in Japan's modern history and which forced him to resign in disgrace.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

Kishi's family in 1923: from left to right, Kishi's wife Ryōko, Kishi's brother Eisaku Satō (rear), Kishi's son Nobukazu, Kishi, Kishi's cousin Hiroshi Yoshida

Kishi was born Nobusuke Satō in Tabuse, Yamaguchi Prefecture, but left his family at a young age to move in with his more affluent relatives in the Kishi family, adopting their family name. Kishi was considered to be so brilliant as a boy that one of his uncles thought it better to adopt him as he believed that his nephew could do much to advance the interests of the Kishi family.[6] He attended an elementary school and middle school in Okayama, and then transferred to another middle school in Yamaguchi. His biological younger brother, Eisaku Satō, would also go on to become a prime minister. Kishi attended prestigious Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), where he graduated at the top of his class from the Faculty of Law.[7] While at the university, Kishi became a protégé of the right-wing legal scholar Shinkichi Uesugi.[8] Because he studied German law under Uesugi, Kishi's views tended toward German-style statism, compared to the more progressive approaches favored by some of his classmates who studied English law.[8] Around this time, Kishi became interested in Marxism and socialism. He also became a follower of the Japanese fascist Ikki Kita, whose writings called for a sort of monarchical socialism for Japan.[9] In 1920, Kishi graduated and entered the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.[10]

In 1926–27, Kishi traveled around the world to study industry and industrial policy in various industrialised states around the world, such as the United States, Germany, and the Soviet Union.[11] In 1929, he was deeply "shocked and impressed" with the Soviet first five-year plan, which left him a convinced believer in state-sponsored industrial development.[11] Besides the Five Year Plan, which left Kishi with an obsession with economic planning, Kishi was also greatly impressed with the labor management theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor in the United States, the German policy of industrial cartels and the high status of German technological engineers within the German business world.[12][11] Kishi became known as one of the more prominent members of a group of "reform bureaucrats" within the Japanese government who favored a statist model of economic development with the state guiding and directing the economy.[13]

Economic manager of Manchukuo[edit]

In the "Manchurian Incident" of September 1931, the Japanese Kwantung Army seized the Chinese region of Manchuria ruled by the warlord Zhang Xueliang (the "Young Marshal") and turned it into a puppet state called "Manchukuo." Although nominally ruled by Emperor Puyi, who had been the last emperor of China's Manchu Qing dynasty, in reality, it was a Japanese colony.[14] All of the ministers in the Manchukuo government were Chinese or Manchus, but all of the deputy ministers were Japanese, and these were the men who really ruled Manchukuo. From the start, the Japanese Army sought to turn Manchukuo into an industrial powerhouse in support of the Japanese empire and carried out a policy of forced industrialization; the model for Manchukuo was the Soviet First Five Year Plan.[15] Reflecting the military's ideas about the "national defense state", Manchukuo's industrial development was focused completely upon heavy industry such as steel production for the purposes of arms manufacture.[15]

Kishi had come to the attention of the Kwantung Army officers as a rising star in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry who openly touted the policies of Nazi Germany and called for policies of "industrial rationalization" to eliminate capitalist competition in support of state goals—ideas that accorded with the Army's idea of a "national defense state."[16] In 1935, Kishi was appointed Manchukuo's Deputy Minister of Industrial Development.[15] Kishi was given complete control of Manchukuo's economy by the military, with the authority to do whatever he liked just as long as industrial growth was increased.[17] After his appointment, Kishi persuaded the military to allow private capital into Manchukuo, successfully arguing that the military's policy of having the state-owned corporations leading Manchukuo's industrial development was costing the Japanese state too much money.[15] One of the firms that Kishi selected to invest in Manchukuo, the Nissan Group, was headed by another of Kishi's uncles.[18] In order to make it profitable for the zaibatsu to invest in Manchukuo, Kishi had a policy of lowering the wages of the workers to the lowest possible point, even below the "line of necessary social reproduction" as he once put it.[19] The purpose of Manchukuo was to provide the industrial basis for the "national defense state" with Driscoll noting "Kishi's planned economy was geared towards production goals and profit taking, not competition with other Japanese firms; profit come primarily from rationalizing labor costs as much as possible. The ne plus ultra of wage rationalization would be withholding pay altogether—that is unremunerated forced labor."[20]

Kishi spent almost all of his time in Manchukuo's capital, Hsinking (modern Changchun, China) with the exception of monthly trips to Dalian on the world famous Asia Express railroad line, where he indulged in his passion for women in alcohol- and sex-drenched weekends.[21] All of his friends in Manchukuo were Japanese and Kishi never associated with Chinese or any other ethnic groups in Manchuria on a social basis.[21] Kishi's dinner companions were fellow bureaucrats, businessmen seeking government contracts, Army officers and yakuza gangsters.[21] Kishi relied on yakuza thugs to terrorize the Chinese workers in Manchukuo's factories into submission, and ensure that there were no strikes caused by the long hours, low pay and poor working conditions.[22] Because the Kwantung Army expected to settle Manchukuo with millions of Japanese to solve the problem of overpopulation in Japan, after the Manchurian Incident the army generals had sought to curtail Han Chinese migration into Manchukuo.[17] However, Kishi reversed these policies in 1935, arguing successfully to the generals that the yakuza would keep the Chinese workers in line and that to grow Manchukuo's industries required cheap Chinese labor to be exploited.[17]

As a self-described "playboy of the Eastern world", Kishi was known during his four years in Manchukuo for his lavish spending amid much drinking, gambling, and womanizing.[23] A man with a very active sex life, Kishi, when not visiting the brothels of Manchuria, was demanding sex from the waitresses who served him at the expensive restaurants he patronized, appearing to have regarded sex from waitresses as an essential part of his fine dining experience.[21] Kishi was able to afford his hedonistic, free-spending lifestyle as he had control over millions of yen with virtually no oversight, alongside being deeply involved in and profiting from the opium trade. As such, it is commonly believed that Kishi engaged in corruption partly in order to finance his own expensive taste.[4] During his time in Manchukuo, Kishi was able to marshal private capital in a very strongly state-directed economy to achieve vastly increased industrial production while at the same time displaying complete indifference to the exploited Chinese workers toiling in Manchukuo's factories; the American historian Mark Driscoll described Kishi's system as a "necropolitical" system where the Chinese workers were literally treated as dehumanized cogs within a vast industrial machine.[24] Kishi favored giant conglomerates as the engines of industrial growth as the best way of achieving economics of scale. The system that Kishi pioneered in Manchuria of a state-guided economy where corporations made their investments on government orders later served as the model for Japan's post-1945 development, albeit not with same level of brutal exploitation as in Manchukuo.[25] Later on, Kishi's statist model for economic development was adopted in South Korea and China, albeit not executed with anywhere near the same brutality as in Manchuria.[25]

In 1936, Kishi was one of the drafters of a proposed 3.13 billion yen Five Year Plan, which was intended to drastically increase industrial production both within Manchukuo and Japan itself to the point that Japan could fight a total war by 1941.[26] Kishi's "communistic" Five Year Plan created much opposition from the zaibatsu, who were not keen to see his statist Manchurian system extended to Japan; not the least because in Kishi's system, the purpose of private enterprise was to serve the state rather than make a profit, and in December 1936 following an extensive lobbying campaign by the industrialists, the Five Year Plan was rejected by the Imperial Diet.[27] However, the Five Year Plan, while rejected for Japan, went ahead in Manchukuo.[28] The intention of the Five Year Plan was to focus on heavy industry for military purposes and to vastly increase production of coal, steel, electricity and weapons.[28] One of the corporations founded for the Five Year Plan was the state-owned Manchurian Corporation for Development of Heavy Industry in 1937, which in its first year, had 5.2 billion yen invested in it by the Japanese state, making it by far the largest capital project in the Japanese empire; the total expenditure by the state for 1937 was 2.5 billion yen and for 1938 3.2 billion yen.[28] The Japanese historian Hotta Eri wrote that never before in Japanese history had the state ever embarked upon such a gigantic project such as the Five Year Plan.[28]

The Japanese conscripted hundreds of thousands of Chinese as slave labor to work in Manchukuo's heavy industrial plants. In 1937, Kishi signed a decree calling for the use of slave labour to be conscripted both in Manchukuo and in northern China, stating that in these "times of emergency" (i.e. war with China), industry needed to grow at all costs, and slavery would have to be used as the money to pay the workers was not there.[29] The American historian Mark Driscoll wrote that just as African slaves were taken to the New World on the "Middle Passage", it would be right to speak of the "Manchurian Passage" as vast numbers of Chinese peasants were rounded up to be taken as slaves to Manchukuo.[30] Starting in 1938 and continuing to 1945, about one million Chinese were taken every year to work as slaves in Manchukuo.[31] The harsh conditions of Manchukuo were well illustrated by the Fushun coal mine, which at any given moment had about 40,000 men working as miners, of whom about 25,000 had to be replaced every year as their predecessors had died due to poor working conditions and low living standards.[28]

A believer in the Yamato race theory, Kishi had nothing but contempt for the Chinese as a people, whom he disparagingly referred to as "lawless bandits" who were "incapable of governing themselves".[32] Precisely for these racist reasons, Kishi believed there was no point to establishing the rule of law in Manchukuo, as the Chinese were not capable of following laws, and instead brute force was what was needed to maintain social stability.[32] In Kishi's analogy, just as dogs were not capable of understanding abstract concepts such as the law, but could be trained to be utterly obedient to their masters, the same went with the Chinese, whom Kishi claimed were mentally closer to dogs than humans.[32] In this way, Kishi maintained that once the Japanese proved that they were the ones with the power, the dog-like Chinese would come to be naturally obedient to their Japanese masters, and as such the Japanese had to behave with a great deal of sternness to prove that they were the masters.[32] Kishi, when speaking in private, always used the term "Manchū" to refer to Manchukuo, instead of "Manchūkoku", which reflected his viewpoint that Manchukuo was not a state, but rather just a region rich in resources and 34 million people to be used for Japan's benefit.[32] In Kishi's eyes, Manchukuo and its people were literally just resources to be exploited by Japan, and he never made the pretense in private that maintaining Japanese rule was good for the people of Manchukuo.[29] Alongside the exploitation of men as slave workers went the exploitation of women as sex slaves, as women were forced into becoming "comfort women" as sexual slavery in the Imperial Army and Navy was called.[33] Kishi's racist and sexist views of Chinese and Korean women as simply "disposable bodies" to be used by Japanese men meant he had no qualms about rounding up women and girls to serve in the "comfort women corps".[34]

Tokyo's Pan-Asian rhetoric, where Manchukuo was a place where Manchus, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Mongols would all to come together to live harmoniously in Pan-Asian peace, prosperity and brotherhood meant nothing to Kishi or the other Japanese bureaucrats governing Manchukuo. Along the same lines, Kishi used very dehumanizing language to describe the Chinese such as a people good for being only "robot slaves" or as a people who should be nothing more than "mechanical instruments of the Imperial Army, non-human automatons, absolutely obedient" to their Japanese masters.[32] One of Kishi's closest friends and business partners, the yakuza gangster Yoshio Kodama summed up his boss's thinking about the Chinese as: "We Japanese are like pure water in a bucket; different from the Chinese who are like the filthy Yangtze river. But be careful. If even the smallest amount of shit gets into our bucket, we become totally polluted. Since all the toilets in China empty into the Yangtze, the Chinese are soiled forever. We, however, must maintain our purity".[35] A recurring theme of Kishi's remarks was the Chinese were excrement, something dirty and disgusting, which he and other Japanese needed to maintain their "purity" from by avoiding as much as possible.[36]

Before returning to Japan in October 1939, Kishi is reported to have advised his colleagues in the Manchukuo government about corruption: "Political funds should be accepted only after they have passed through a 'filter' and been 'cleansed'. If a problem arises, the 'filter' itself will then become the center of the affair, while the politician, who has consumed the 'clean water', will not be implicated. Political funds become the basis of corruption scandals only when they have not been sufficiently 'filtered'."[4]

Minister in the Konoe and Tōjō governments[edit]

Hideki Tōjō (right) and Nobusuke Kishi, October, 1943

In 1940, Kishi became a minister in the government of Prince Fumimaro Konoe. Kishi intended to create within Japan the same sort of totalitarian "national defense state" that he had pioneered in Manchuria, but these plans ran into vigorous opposition from various vested interests.[37] In December 1940, Konoe dropped Kishi from his cabinet.[37] Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, himself a veteran of the Manchurian campaign, appointed Kishi Minister of Munitions in October 1941.[38] The mandate of the Tōjō government, provided by the Shōwa Emperor, was to prepare Japan for a war with the United States, and to this end Tōjō appointed Kishi to his cabinet as the best man to prepare Japan economically for the "total war" he had envisioned.[39] Kishi had known General Tōjō since 1931, and was one of his closest allies in the Cabinet. Tōjō, in turn, regarded Kishi as his protege.[40]

On 1 December 1941, Kishi voted in the Cabinet for war with the United States and Britain, and signed the declaration of war issued on 7 December 1941.[41] Kishi was also elected to the Lower House of the Diet of Japan in April 1942 as a member of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.[4] As Minister of Commerce and later Vice Minister of Munitions, Kishi was deeply involved in taking thousands of Koreans and Chinese to work as slaves in Japan's factories and mines during the war.[42] During the war, 670,000 Koreans and 41,862 Chinese were taken to work as slave labor under the most degrading conditions in Japan; the majority did not survive the experience.[43]

In July 1944, Kishi forced the Tojo Cabinet resign en masse by forging disagreements within the Cabinet after the fall of Saipan. During the political crisis caused by the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Saipan, Tōjō attempted to save his government from collapse by reorganizing his cabinet. However, Kishi told Tōjō he would only resign if the prime minister also resigned along with the entire cabinet, saying a partial reorganization was unacceptable.[40] Firing Kishi was not an option since Tōjō himself had appointed him, and despite Tōjō's tears as he begged Kishi to save his government, Kishi was unmoved.[40]

After the fall of the Tōjō government, Kishi left the Imperial Rule Assistance Association and founded a new political party, the Kishi New Party.[4] Kishi took him with 32 members of the Diet into his party. The Kishi New Party was noteworthy because none of its members were connected to the zaibatsu; instead the Kishi New Party comprised small and middle-sized businessmen who had invested in Manchukuo during Kishi's time in Manchuria or who had benefited from state contracts during Kishi's time as Munitions Minister; senior executives at the "public policy corporations" Kishi had created for investments in Manchukuo, and ultra-nationalists who had participated in coup attempts in the 1930s.[4]

Prisoner in Sugamo[edit]

After the Japanese surrender to the Allies in August 1945, Kishi, with other members of the former Japanese government, was held at Sugamo Prison as a suspected "Class A" war criminal by the order of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. During this time, a group of influential Americans who had formed themselves into the American Council on Japan came to Kishi's aid, and lobbied the American government to release him as they considered Kishi to be the best man to lead a post-war Japan in a pro-American direction.[42] The American Council on Japan comprised the journalists Harry Kern and Compton Packenham, the lawyer James L. Kauffman, former Ambassador Joseph C. Grew, and former diplomat Eugene Dooman.[42] Unlike Hideki Tōjō (and several other Cabinet members) who were put on trial, Kishi was released in 1948 and was never indicted or tried by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. However, he remained legally prohibited from entering public affairs because of the Allied occupation's purge of members of the old regime.

In his prison diary, Kishi rejected the legitimacy of the American war crimes trials, which he called a "farce", and Kishi would spend the rest of his life working for the rehabilitation of all the war criminals convicted by the Allies after 1945.[44] During his time as a prisoner, Kishi had already begun plotting his political comeback. He conceived of the idea of a mass party uniting the more moderate socialists and conservatives into a "popular movement of national salvation," a populist party that would use statist methods to encourage economic growth and would mobilize all Japanese citizens to rally in support of its nationalist policies.[4]

Return to politics[edit]

Nobusuke Kishi (left) relaxes at the house of his brother, the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Eisaku Satō (1901–75), shortly after he was released from Sugamo Prison on 24 December 1948.

When the prohibition on former government members was fully rescinded in 1952 with the end of the Allied occupation of Japan, Kishi returned to politics and was central in creating the "Japan Reconstruction Federation" (Nippon Saiken Renmei). Besides becoming Prime Minister, Kishi's main aim in politics was revise the American-imposed constitution, especially Article 9.[4] In a speech, he called for doing away with Article 9, saying if Japan were to become a: "respectable member (of) the community of nations it would first have to revise its constitution and rearm: If Japan is alone in renouncing war ... she will not be able to prevent others from invading her land. If, on the other hand, Japan could defend herself, there would be no further need of keeping United States garrison forces in Japan. ... Japan should be strong enough to defend herself."[4] Kishi's Japan Reconstruction Federation fared disastrously in the 1952 elections, and Kishi failed in his bid to be elected to the Diet.[4] After that defeat, Kishi disbanded his party, and tried to join the Socialists; after being rebuffed, he reluctantly joined the Liberal Party instead.[4] After being elected to the Diet as a Liberal in 1953, Kishi's main activities were undermining the leadership of the Liberal leader, Shigeru Yoshida so he could become the Liberal leader in his place.[4] Kishi's main avenues of attack were that Yoshida was far too deferential to the Americans and for the need to do away with Article 9.[4] In April 1954 Yoshida expelled Kishi for his attempts to depose him as Liberal leader.[4] By this time, the very wealthy Kishi had well over 200 members of the Diet as his loyal followers.[4] In November 1954, Kishi took his faction into the Democratic Party led by Ichirō Hatoyama. Hatoyama was the party leader, but Kishi was the party-secretary, and crucially he controlled the party's finances, which thus made him the dominant force within the Democrats.[4] Elections in Japan were very expensive, so few candidates to the Diet could afford the costs of an election campaign out of their own pockets or could fund-raise enough money for a successful bid for the Diet. As a result, candidates to the Diet needed a steady infusion of money from the party-secretariat to run a winning campaign, which made Kishi a powerful force within the Democratic Party as he determined which candidates received money from the party-secretariat and how much.[4] As a result, Democratic candidates for the Diet either seeking election for the first time or reelection were constantly seeing Kishi to seek his favor. Reflecting Kishi's power as party-secretary, Hatoyama was described as an omikoshi, a type of portable Shinto shrine carried around to be worshipped.[4] Everyone bows downs and worships an omikoshi, but to move an omikoshi must be picked up and carried by somebody.

In February 1955, the Democrats won the general elections. On the day after Hatoyama was sworn in as prime minister, Kishi began talks with the Liberals about merging the two parties now that his arch-enemy Yoshida had stepped down as Liberal leader after losing the elections.[4] In November 1955, the Democratic Party and Liberal Party merged to elect Ichirō Hatoyama as the head of the new Liberal Democratic Party. Within the new party, Kishi once again become the party-secretary with control of the finances.[4] Kishi had reassured the American ambassador John Allison that "for the next twenty five years it would be in Japan's best interests to cooperate closely with the United States."[42] The Americans wanted Kishi to become Prime Minister and were disappointed when Tanzan Ishibashi, the most anti-American of the LDP politicians, won the party's leadership, leading an American diplomat to write the U.S had bet its "money on Kishi, but the wrong horse won."[42] Just 65 days later, however, in February 1957, Ishibashi was forced to resign due to illness and Kishi was elected to lead his party and the nation as prime minister.

Prime Minister of Japan[edit]

Policy goals[edit]

In February 1957, Kishi became Prime Minister following the resignation of the ailing Tanzan Ishibashi. His main concerns were with foreign policy, especially with revising the 1952 U.S-Japan Security Treaty, which he felt had turned Japan into a virtual American protectorate.[45] Revising the security treaty was understood to be the first step towards his ultimate goal of abolishing Article 9. Besides his desire for a more independent foreign policy, Kishi wanted to establish close economic relations with the various states of South-East Asia to create a Japanese economic sphere of influence, which might one day become a political sphere of influence as well.[45] Finally, Kishi wanted the Allies to free all of the Class B and Class C war criminals still in serving their prison sentences, arguing that for Japan to play its role in the Cold War as a Western ally required forgetting about Japan's war crimes in the past.[45]

Pursuit of an Asian Development Fund[edit]

In the first year of Kishi's term, Japan joined the United Nations Security Council, paid war reparations to Indonesia, signed a new commercial treaty with Australia, and signed peace treaties with Czechoslovakia and Poland. In 1957, Kishi presented a plan for a Japanese-dominated Asian Development Fund (ADF), which was to operate under the slogan "Economic Development for Asia by Asia", calling for Japan to invest millions of yen in Southeast Asia.[46] For most Japanese Asia had meant Korea and China, especially Manchuria, but in the 1950s, Korea and China were off fines.[47] Japan did not have diplomatic relations with South Korea until 1964 when the South Korean dictator General Park Chung-hee who had served as an officer with the Manchukuo Army in World War II established relations and even then, it caused riots in South Korea. Japanese relations with North Korea and China in the 1950s were even worse.[47] For all these reasons, Kishi turned towards Southeast Asia as an alternative market for Japanese goods and a source of raw materials.[47] Additionally, the Americans wanted more aid to Asia to spur economic growth that would stem the appeal of Communism, but the Americans were disinclined to spend the money themselves.[48] The prospect of Japan spending some $500 million US in low interest loans and aid projects in Southeast Asia had the benefit from Kishi's viewpoint of improving his standing in Washington, and giving him more leverage in his talks to revise the U.S-Japan Security Treaty.[49]

Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru presenting Welcome Address to Kishi, New Delhi, 24 May 1957

In pursuit of the ADF, Kishi visited India, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Ceylon, and Taiwan in May 1957, asking the leaders of those states to join the ADF, but with the exception of Taiwan, which agreed to join, all of the leaders of the those states gave equivocal answers.[50] Though he always denied it in public, Kishi saw the ADF as an economic version of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" that Japan had sought to establish in World War II, which contributed to the failure of the proposed ADF as memories of the Japanese occupation were too fresh in Southeast Asia.[51] To many people in Southeast Asia, the slogan "Economic Development for Asia by Asia" sounded too much like the Japanese wartime propaganda slogan "Asia for Asians!"[51][52] During World War II, as a response to American sanctions, which created natural resource shortages in Japan, Japan seized the resources of Southeast Asia through an invasion.[53] In Southeast Asia, Japanese state propaganda presented the war as a race war between Asians and Europeans, portraying the war as a Pan-Asian crusade to unite all of the peoples of Asia against their European rulers.[52][54] Although invading Japanese forces were sometimes seen by the inhabitants as liberators, the subsequent exploitation and brutality led many of the inhabitants to regard Japan as worse than their former Western colonial rulers.[52] The peoples of Southeast Asia had learned the Japanese did not regard other Asians as equals, as the Japanese had a habit of slapping the faces of the peoples they ruled to remind them who were the "Great Yamato race" and who were not.[54] The Burmese Prime Minister U Nu had, like everyone else in the Burmese elite, been a Japanese collaborator in World War II. Precisely because of his past U Nu told Kishi during his visit to Rangoon that he was reluctant to join the ADF as it would remind the Burmese people of the days when he was shouting Pan-Asian rhetoric, praising Japan as the natural leader of Asia and declaring how happy he was to serve the Japanese.[55] Even in countries that were not occupied by Japan like India, Ceylon and Pakistan, Kishi encountered obstacles. During his visit to Karachi, the Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy told Kishi that he thought of himself as a "human being rather than an Asian first", preferred bilateral over multilateral aid as it allowed Pakistan to play off rival states for better terms, and that Pakistan would not join the ADF if India also joined.[56] Suhrawadry made it clear that until the Kashmir dispute was settled to Pakistan's satisfaction that Pakistan would not be joining any organization that India was a member of.[57] The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru told Kishi during his visit to New Delhi that he wanted his states to be neutral in the Cold War, and that as Japan was allied to the United States, joining the ADF would be in effect aligning India with the Americans.[56] In Colombo, the Ceylonese Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, through not objecting to the ADF in principle, told Kishi that he preferred bilateral aid deals as it allowed Ceylon to play off the Soviet Union against the United States, and objected to the provision that joining the ADF would mean be "locked in" to only accepting aid from the ADF.[57] Only during his visit to Taiping did Kishi receive outright acceptance of the ADF, through the Taiwanese press statement proclaiming the ADF would be most useful for stopping the rise of Communism in Asia proved embarrassing for Kishi as he had maintained in public that the ADF was supposed to be an organization for allowing Asians to help other Asians and had nothing to do with the Cold War.[58] Because Japan was a much richer country than all of the other countries of the proposed ADF combined, the ADF was generally as a vehicle for Japan to re-establish itself as a great power in Asia, as few had any doubt that Japan would be the dominant member of the ADF.[59] Moreover, the fact that the United States was supporting the ADF led the proposed organization to be seen as siding with the United States in the Cold War, a struggle that many Asian states wanted to be neutral in.[60] Ultimately, even the United States was lukewarm about Kishi's project, so it was shelved for the time being, although it was later partially revived in the form of the Asian Development Bank.

Pursuit of treaty revision[edit]

Kishi's next foreign policy initiative was potentially even more difficult: reworking Japan's security relationship with the United States. In June 1957, Kishi visited the United States, where he was received with honor, being allowed to address a joint session of Congress, throwing the opening pitch for the New York Yankees in a baseball game in New York and being allowed to play golf at an otherwise all-white golf club in Virginia, which the American historian Michael Schaller called "remarkable" honors for a man who as a Cabinet minister had signed the declaration of war against the United States in 1941 and who was responsible for using thousands of Koreans and Chinese as slave labor during World War II.[42] The Vice President of the United States, Richard Nixon introduced Kishi to Congress as a "honored guest who was not only a great leader of the free world, but also a loyal and great friend of the people of the United States", apparently unaware or indifferent to the fact that Kishi had been one of the closest associates of General Tojo, hanged by the United States for war crimes in 1948.[4]

In November 1957, Kishi laid down his proposals for a revamped extension of the US–Japan Mutual Security Treaty, and the Eisenhower administration finally agreed to negotiations on a revised version. The American ambassador Douglas MacArthur II reported to Washington that Kishi was the most pro-American of the Japanese politicians, and if the U.S refused to revise the security treaty in Japan's favor, he would be replaced as Prime Minister by a more anti-American figure.[42] The U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, wrote in a memo to President Eisenhower that the United States was "at the point of having to make a Big Bet" in Japan and Kishi was the "only bet we had left in Japan."[42] Meanwhile, Kishi was able to take advantage of a growing anti-US military base movement in Japan, as exemplified by the ongoing Sunagawa Struggle over proposed expansion of the US air base at Tachikawa and the explosion of anger in Japan over the Girard Incident to insinuate to U.S. leaders that if the treaty were not revised the continued existence of U.S. bases in Japan might become untenable.[61]

Anticipating public opposition to his plans for revising the security treaty, Kishi brought before the Diet a harsh "Police Duties Bill," which would give the police vastly new powers to crush demonstrations and to conduct searches of homes without warrants.[62] In response to the police bill, a nationwide coalition of left-leaning civic organizations led by the Japan Socialist Party and the Sōhyō labor federation launched a variety of protest activities in the fall of 1958 with the aim of killing the bill.[62] These protests succeeded in arousing public anger at the bill and Kishi was forced to withdraw it.[62]

On 27 November 1958, over the opposition of the Emperor, Crown Prince Akihito announced his engagement to Shōda Michiko, which marked the first time that a member of the House of Yamato had married a commoner or had married for love.[63] For the Japanese people, the idea that a member of the Imperial family would marry a commoner for love was revolutionary as such thing had never happened in Japan before, and the marriage proved very popular with the public.[63] In February 1959, a public opinion showed 87% of the Japanese people approved of Akihito's choice of bride.[63] The Shinto clergy disapproved of the wedding because Michiko was a Roman Catholic while traditionalists in general led by the Emperor himself were opposed to the idea of the Crown Prince marrying a commoner for love as this was out of line with Japanese tradition, but given the level of public support, there was nothing to be done to stop the wedding.[64] Kishi saw the Imperial wedding as a chance to divert attention from the unpopular security treaty, and gave his approval to the engagement.[63] As the country was caught in Imperial wedding fever, the issue of the security treaty vanished and Kishi mistakenly assumed the matter was over.[63] On 10 April 1959, before a TV audience of 15 million people, Crown Prince Akihito married Michiko while half-million people showed up to watch the wedding in person.[63] After the wedding, the matter of the security treaty returned to the public mind while Kishi thought the public had forgotten about the treaty.[65]

The 1960 Anpo Protests[edit]

Protesters flood the streets around the Japanese National Diet to protest against revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, June 18, 1960

In late 1959, it became clear that Kishi intended to break with longstanding precedent that prime ministers serve no more than two consecutive terms.[66] Kishi hoped that by successfully revising the Security Treaty, he would have attained the political capital necessary to pull off this feat. In response to Kishi's break with tradition, Kishi's opponents within his own Liberal Democratic Party, who felt they had waited long enough for their chance at power, vowed to do whatever was necessary to bring about the end of his premiership.[66] Meanwhile, final negotiations on the new treaty wrapped up in 1959, and in January 1960, Kishi traveled to Washington, D.C., where he signed the new treaty with President Eisenhower on January 19.[67] During his visit to the United States, Kishi appeared on the January 25, 1960 cover of Time magazine, which declared that the Prime Minister's "134 pound body packed pride, power and passion—a perfect embodiment of his country's amazing resurgence" while Newsweek called him the "Friendly, Savvy Salesman from Japan" who had created the "economic powerhouse of Asia."[42]

However, even though the revised treaty addressed almost all of Japan's complaints with the original treaty, and put the U.S.-Japan alliance on a much more equal footing,[68] the notion of having any sort of security treaty at all with the United States was unpopular with broad sections of the Japanese public, who saw the treaty as allowing for Japan to once again become involved in a war.[65] In 1959, the nationwide coalition that had successfully defeated Kishi's Police Duties Bill in 1958 had rebranded itself as the "People's Council for Preventing Revision of the Security Treaty" (Anpo Jōyaku Kaitei Soshi Kokumin Kaigi) and began recruiting additional member organizations and organizing protest activities against the revised Security Treaty.[69] In a sign of things to come, radical student activists from the Zengakuren student federation and leftist labor unionists invaded the compound of the National Diet in November 1959 to express their anger at the Treaty, and in January, Zengakuren activists organized a sit-in in Tokyo's Haneda Airport to attempt to prevent Kishi from flying to Washington to sign the treaty, but were cleared away by police.[70]

Because the new treaty was better than the old one, Kishi expected it to be ratified in relatively short order. Accordingly, he invited Eisenhower to visit Japan beginning on June 19, 1960, in part to celebrate the newly ratified treaty. If Eisenhower's visit had proceeded as planned, he would have become the first sitting US president to visit Japan.[71] However, when debate on the treaty began in the Diet, the opposition Japan Socialist Party, abetted by Kishi's rivals in his own party, employed a variety of parliamentary tactics to drag out debate as long as possible, in hopes of preventing ratification before Eisenhower's planned arrival on June 19, and giving the extra-parliamentary protests more time to grow.[72]

As the date of Eisenhower's planned visit drew near, Kishi grew increasingly desperate to ratify the treaty in time for his arrival.[73] On May 19, 1960, Kishi suddenly called for a snap vote on the Treaty. When Socialist Diet members attempted a sit-in to block the vote, Kishi introduced 500 policemen into the Diet and had his political opponents physically dragged out by the police.[74] Kishi then passed the revised Treaty with only members of his own party present.[75] Kishi's anti-democratic actions during this "May 19 Incident" outraged much of the nation, with even conservative newspapers calling for Kishi's resignation.[76] Thereafter, the anti-Treaty protest movement dramatically increased in size, with the Sōhyō labor federation carrying out a series of nationwide strikes and large crowds gathering around the National Diet on nearly a daily basis.[76]

On June 10, White House Press Secretary James Hagerty arrived at Tokyo's Haneda Airport to make advance preparations for Eisenhower's impending arrival. Hagerty was picked up in a black car by US Ambassador to Japan Douglas MacArthur II (the nephew of the famous general),[77] who deliberately provoked an international incident by ordering that the car be driven into a large crowd of protesters.[78] MacArthur felt that if the demonstrators were going to resort to violence it would be better for both the US and Japanese governments to know rather than waiting to test their resolve at the arrival of the President.[79] In the so-called "Hagerty Incident", the protesters surrounded the car, rocking it back and forth for more than an hour while standing on its roof, chanting anti-American slogans, and singing protest songs.[77] Ultimately, MacArthur and Hagerty had to be rescued by a US Marines military helicopter.[78]

On 15 June 1960, the radical student activists from Zengakuren attempted to storm the Diet compound once again, precipitating a fierce battle with police in which a female Tokyo University student named Michiko Kanba was killed.[80] Kanba's death led to the largest demonstrations ever in Japanese history, against both police brutality and the treaty.[65] By this point, Kishi had become so unpopular that all the LDP factions united to demand that he resign.[81] In April 1960, across the Korea straits, South Korean president Syngman Rhee had been overthrown in the April Revolution, led by protesting university students, and at the time, there were serious fears in Japan that protests led by university students against the Kishi government might likewise lead to a revolution, making it imperative to ditch the very unpopular Kishi.[81]

Desperate to stay in office long enough to host Eisenhower's visit, Kishi hoped to secure the streets in time for Eisenhower's arrival by calling out the Japan Self Defense Forces[82] and tens of thousands of right-wing thugs that would be provided by his friend, the yakuza-affiliated right-wing "fixer" Yoshio Kodama.[83] However, he was talked out of these extreme measures by his cabinet, and thereafter had no choice but to cancel Eisenhower's visit and take responsibility for the chaos by announcing on June 16 that he would resign within one month's time.[82]

Despite Kishi's announcement, the anti-Treaty protests grew larger than ever, with the largest protest of the entire movement taking place on June 18.[84] However, on June 19, the revised Security Treaty automatically took effect in accordance with Japanese law, 30 days after having passed the lower house of the Diet.[75] On July 15, 1960 Kishi officially resigned and Hayato Ikeda became prime minister.[84]

Stabbing incident[edit]

On July 14, 1960, Kishi was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant as he was leaving the prime minister’s residence to host a garden party celebrating Hayato Ikeda's impending ascension to the premiership.[85] The assailant was Taisuke Aramaki, an unemployed 65-year-old man affiliated with various right wing groups.[85] Aramaki stabbed Kishi six times in the thigh, causing Kishi to bleed profusely, although Kishi survived because the blade had missed major arteries.[85] Kishi was rushed to nearby hospital, where he received a total of 30 stitches to close his wounds.[85] Reporters raced after him and climbed on stepladders to peer into his hospital room, with nurses angrily closing the curtains on them.[85]

Aramaki was arrested at the scene, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to three years in prison in May 1962.[85] Despite being unemployed, he had somehow been able to post a substantial bail during the intervening two years.[85]

Aramaki never clearly stated the motivations for his attack. Despite the violent nature of the attack, Aramaki denied that he had intended to kill Kishi, later telling a reporter in an interview, "Yeah, I stabbed him six times, but if I wanted him dead, I would have just killed him."[85] Aramaki told the same reporter that he had visited with the family of Michiko Kanba prior to his attack, perhaps suggesting that he sympathized with Kanba and blamed Kishi for her death.[85] According to court records, Aramaki told police that he was angry at Kishi's mishandling of the Security Treaty crisis and wanted to "encourage Kishi to feel remorse."[85][86]

However, some figures close to Kishi considered Aramaki's supposed anger in relation to the Anpo protests to be a cover story. In her 1992 memoir, Kishi's daughter Yōko wrote that Aramaki was "a paid assassin, who knew how to use a knife, who was hired by someone who hated my father and wanted to hurt him."[85] In the prewar period, Aramaki had been secretary general of the right-wing ultranationalist Taikakai ("Great Reform Society"),[85] and in the post-war period, he became a member of LDP factional leader Banboku Ōno's private extraparliamentary pressure group (ingaidan). Many LDP politicians felt that the stabbing had been carried out at Ōno's behest, as Ōno had openly hoped to succeed Kishi as prime minister and was known to be angry that Kishi had thrown his support behind Ikeda.[86]

Curiously, Kishi was largely silent on the attack in his memoirs, devoting only two lines to it and saying only that he did not know the reason, and Kishi's brother Eisaku Satō did not even mention the attack in his diary entry for that day.[85]

Later years[edit]

After taking power in a coup d'état in May 1961, the South Korean dictator General Park Chung-hee visited Japan in November 1961 to discuss establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea, which were finally achieved in 1965.[87] Park had been a Japanese military officer serving in the Manchukuo Army and had fought with the Kwantung Army against guerrillas in Manchuria.[citation needed] During his visit to Japan, Park met with Kishi, where speaking in his fluent, albeit heavily Korean accented Japanese, praised Japan for the "efficiency of the Japanese spirit", and that he wanted to learn "good plans" from Japan for South Korea.[87] Besides fond reminiscences about the Japanese officers in Manchukuo who taught him about how to give a "good thrashing" to one's opponents, Park was very interested in Kishi's economic policies in Manchuria as a model for South Korea.[87] Kishi told the Japanese press after his meeting with Park that he was a "little embarrassed" by Park's rhetoric, which was virtually unchanged from the sort of talk used by Japanese officers in World War II, with none of the concessions to the world of 1961 that Kishi himself employed.[87] During his time as president of South Korea, Park launched the Five-Year Plans for the economic development of South Korea that featured statist economic policies that very closely resembled Kishi's Five Year Plans.[87]

For the rest of his life, Kishi remained devoted to the cause of revising the Japanese Constitution to get rid of Article 9 and remilitarizing Japan. In 1965, Kishi gave a speech where he called for Japanese rearmament as "a means of eradicating completely the consequences of Japan's defeat and the American occupation. It is necessary to enable Japan finally to move out of the post-war era and for the Japanese people to regain their self-confidence and pride as Japanese."[25] Kishi always saw the system created by the Americans as temporary and intended that one day Japan would resume its role as a great power; in the interim, he was prepared to work within the American-created system both domestically and internationally to safeguard what he regarded as Japan's interests.[25]

Kishi remained in the Diet until retiring from politics in 1979, and died in 1987 at the age of 90.

Controversies[edit]

Kishi illustrates the ambivalent role of America in post-war Japan,[42] and the difficulty of eradicating nationalist World War II negationism from a postwar Japan where associated political dynasties remained entrenched. As prime minister, he promoted postwar nationalist negationism by liberating former military personnel convicted by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers of various war crimes, and dedicating on Mount Sangane a headstone to General Tojo and six other military leaders executed after the Tokyo war crimes trial, marking their grave as that of "the seven patriots who died for their country".[88]

Political scientist Richard Samuels has found extensive corruption during Kishi's time as prime minister. In February 1958, when the Indonesian president Sukarno visited Japan, the Tokyo police refused to provide security under the grounds that this was a private visit, not a state one.[4] At that point, Kishi asked one of his close friends, the Yakuza gangster Yoshio Kodama, to provide thugs from the underworld for Sukarno's protection.[4] During Sukarno's visit, Kishi negotiated a reparations agreement with Indonesia, where Japan agreed to provide compensation for war-time suffering.[4] Kishi's reasons for paying reparations to Indonesia had less to do with guilt over the Japanese occupation and more to do with the chances to engage in questionable contracts to reward his friends as Kishi insisted that Japan would only pay reparations in the form of goods, not money.[4] In April 1958, Kishi told the Indonesian Foreign Minister Soebandrio that he wanted Indonesia to ask to receive reparations in the form of ships built exclusively by the Kinoshita Trading Company-which happened to be run by Kinoshita Shigeru, a metal merchant and an old friend of Kishi's from their Manchurian days in the 1930s-even through the Kinoshita company had never built ships before, and there were many other well-established Japanese shipbuilders who could have provided ships at a lower price.[4] All of the reparations contracts to the various states of South-East Asia during Kishi's time as Prime Minister went to firms run by businessmen who were closely associated with him during his time in Manchuria in the 1930s.[4] Additionally, there were frequent claims that when it came time to award reparations contracts, high-ranking Indonesian politicians had to receive kickbacks, and that ordinary Indonesians never received any benefits from the reparations.[4]

During the same period, there were questions about the M-fund, a secret American fund intended to stabilize Japan economically.[4] The American Assistant Attorney General Norbert Schlei alleged, "Beginning with Prime Minister Kishi, the Fund has been treated as a private preserve of the individuals into whose control it has fallen. Those individuals have felt able to appropriate huge sums from the Fund for their own personal and political purposes....The litany of abuses begins with Kishi who, after obtaining control of the fund from (then Vice President Richard) Nixon, helped himself to a fortune of one trillion yen...."[4]

Personal life and descendants[edit]

In 1919, Kishi married his cousin Ryōko Kishi, and was adopted by her parents. Their son Nobukazu was born in 1921, and their daughter Yōko was born in 1928.

Kishi's daughter Yōko married politician Shintarō Abe. Their second son, Shinzō Abe, served as prime minister of Japan from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. Their third son, Nobuo Kishi, was adopted by Kishi's son Nobukazu shortly after birth, lived with Kishi during the later years of his life, won Kishi's historical Diet seat in 2012, and became Minister of Defense in 2020.

Honors[edit]

From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

Order of precedence[edit]

  • Senior second rank (August 1987; posthumous)
  • Senior third rank (July 1960)
  • Fourth rank (October 1940)
  • Senior fifth rank (September 1934)
  • Fifth rank (September 1929)
  • Senior sixth rank (September 1927)
  • Sixth rank (August 1925)
  • Senior seventh rank (October 1923)
  • Seventh rank (May 1921)

Foreign Honors[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Tanzan Ishibashi
Prime Minister of Japan
Jan 1957 – Jul 1960
Succeeded by
Hayato Ikeda
Preceded by
Mamoru Shigemitsu
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dec 1956 – Jul 1957
Succeeded by
Aiichiro Fujiyama
Preceded by
Seizō Sakonji
Minister of Commerce & Industry
Oct 1941 – Oct 1943
Succeeded by
Hideki Tōjō